Site Code.

CHICHESTERGPR15
Site identification
Chichester
and address
County, district
Chichester District Council
and / or borough
O.S. grid ref.
Many
Geology.
Alluvium over London Clay
Project number. SNUFFLER1504
Fieldwork type.
Geophysics – GPR
Site type.
Date of fieldwork. July 2015
Sponsor/client.
CDC
Project manager. David Staveley
Project
supervisor.
Period summary

Roman and Medieval

Project summary.
GPR survey over various parts of Roman Chichester
(100 word max)

1

A Ground Penetrating Radar Survey Targeting Roman
Chichester
by David Staveley
Contents
1. HER Statement
2. Contents
3. Introduction
3.
Acknowledgements
3.
Methodology
4. Priory Park
4.
Positioning
6.
Results
6.
Area 1
8.
Area 2
14.
Area 3
19.
Area 4
21.
Area 1,3,4 Interpretation
24.
Area 2 Interpretation
26.
Conclusion
27. Amphitheatre
27.
Positioning
28.
Results
33.
Interpretation
35.
Conclusion
36. Single Transect Surveys
36.
Stane Street
39.
Town Walls
42.
Conclusion
43. References

2

Introduction
This project was initially started to answer a particular research question, which was whether or not
Stane Street continued on through Chichester and out of the south gate instead of stopping at the
east gate. This theory was put forward by John Magilton (1995B, p.31), who suggested that the road
pre-dated Chichester. The original plan was to walk along all of the pavements within the Roman
town walls, taking single GPR B-scans and joining the dots to reveal the internal Roman road
layout of the town. It subsequently became clear that the archaeology was too damaged and too
shallow for this to work well, so radar surveys of grassed areas at Priory Park and the Amphitheatre
were added to make the project more fruitful. Other areas received light attention with a view to
carrying out further radar work.
Acknowledgements
The author would like to thank James Kenny of Chichester District Council for making this possible
and for his expert local knowledge of the archaeology. This wisdom is hereafter referred to as JKPC
(James Kenney Pers. Comm.)
Methodology
The surveys shown here were carried out using an UTSI Groundvue 3a ground penetrating radar
with a 400MHz antenna. A-Scan separation is ~3cm and line separation varied between survey
areas. The data was processed using ReflexW, with static correction, background removal, gain and
band pass filters applied. Depths given assume a velocity of 0.1m/s and are only a rough estimation.
No hyperbola fitting has been done. Survey grids were set out and position recorded with a Javad
Triumph-LS GNSS net rover. Any position given is OSGB36/OSTN02/Newlyn Datum. In
interpretation images, possible Roman features are shown in green, possible medieval in yellow and
possible modern in red.

3

Priory Park
Two areas of the park were surveyed, the large cricket pitch to the east (Area 2) and the smaller
triangular area of grass to the south of the Guildhall (Area 1). Since the area was so large, a low
resolution exploratory survey was undertaken with lines spaced one metre apart and walking eastwest, with a view to surveying areas again at a higher resolution if something interesting was found.
Two further areas of interest (Areas 3 and 4) south of the town hall were then surveyed with 25cm
line spacing when Roman buildings were found for a total of four survey areas. Select time slices
are shown to display the features discussed in the interpretation.
Positioning

4

Area

Pos

Easting

Northing

1

Size

50m

55m

A

486195.80

105104.38

B

486245.74

105106.49

C

486248.07

105051.56

Size

120m

130m

D

486253.83

105151.86

E

486353.29

105166.08

F

486258.90

105032.00

G

486378.77

105037.07

Size

25m

30m

H

486213.08

105098.11

I

486238.05

105099.16

J

486214.35

105068.14

K

486239.32

105069.20

Size

25m

20m

L

486222.68

105060.49

M

486247.65

105061.54

N

486248.49

105041.57

2

3

4

5

Area 1 Results

Area 1 – 16.6ns (~83cm)

6

Area 2 – 20.7ns (~103.5cm)

7

Area 2 Results

Area 2 – 10.5ns (~52.5cm)

8

Area 2 – 11.9ns (59.5cm)

9

Area 2 – 13.1ns (~65.5cm)

10

Area 2 – 15ns (~75cm)

11

Area 2 – 16.4ns (~82cm)

12

Area 2 – 24.2ns (~121cm)

13

Area 3 Results

Area 3 – 13.7ns (~68.5cm)

14

Area 3 – 19ns (~95cm)

15

Area 3 – 22ns (~110cm)

16

Area 3 – 27ns (~135cm)

17

Area 3 – 30.5ns (~152.5cm)

18

Area 4 Results

Area 4 – 11.4ns (~57cm)

19

Area 4 – 17ns (~85cm)

20

Areas 1,3,4 Interpretation

21

A) This feature, clearly visible on aerial photographs, is a modern reservoir (JKPC). It is visible in
the slices from the surface and the walls slope inwards slightly until it disappears at about a depth of
60cm.
B) This building appears to be a Roman town house. The highest upstanding sections of wall, on the
east and north side start to make an appearance at 30cm, and intact floors to the south-west at 35cm.
One room appears to have a complete floor and three other rooms surrounding it have partial floor
spaces remaining. A full set of foundations don't appear in the slices until about 85cm, so there
seems to be significant robbing of the walls, especially in the north where some walls have gone
completely. The whole building probably extended further to the west, but will have been truncated
by feature A.
C) This feature appears to be in very good condition, probably due to its depth. The highest
remaining wall parts are at 45cm, lower than building B by 10cm, but the rest of the building is
sunken, with the completely intact floor not making an appearance until a depth of 90cm. This floor
slopes downwards from the south to the north by 20cm. This slope is consistent rather than warped,
so may be down to design rather than post Roman sinking of the feature. The wall appearing to cut
the building in half is only about 10cm high at the bottom, with the surrounding untouched walls
extending much higher, so again this may be down to design rather than robbing. The small
extension to the west may be access down into this room from the Roman surface level, but steps
are not visible on the results. The building seems to be connected to building E to the south, both by
a wall and the same orientation. The most likely interpretation is an unheated bathing pool.
D) This flat section of hard material may be a collapsed section of Roman wall, perhaps preserved
as other upstanding sections were more obvious targets for stone robbing, with this section covered,
but due to a lack of foundation at this point, a more likely explanation is that this is a medieval
feature associated with feature G, constructed of robbed Roman material. The blue line on the
interpretation is the line of the transect shown below. Feature D is shown to the centre left, with the
cut of feature G showing weakly diving down next to it, before rising again to another small solid
feature to the east that is on the same level as feature D. The three seem associated in this transect,
hence the suggestion that they are of the same date.

22

E) Another possible Roman building, connected to building C by a wall. It is not in as good a
condition as building B. The highest surviving sections of wall appear at 30cm, the centre wall
running N-S. Most of the walls in the northern part have appeared by 50cm and the southern part by
60cm. There are no surviving floor layers.
F) This small circular feature is bowl shaped. It appears at 35cm, being ~140x190cm wide curving
down to a base ~80cmx110cm wide at a depth of 50cm. It's purpose is unclear. A transect across this
feature, shown by the blue line on the interpretation, is shown below, with feature F in the centre.
To the east of that, some of the rubble filling the cut of feature G is visible.

G) This feature is most likely the same as feature J in area 2, but here is more visible, as the fill
contains some solid material. Due to the proximity to building E, this solid material used for
backfilling this feature may be wall and floor material robbed from feature E. The feature seems to
end abruptly at feature D, which may be associated with it, but this is not a certainty, given feature J
in area 2 is so hard to see. What is not visible in area 1 to the north of feature G is the same phase
change in the un-enveloped data that defines feature J in area 2. The profile looks curved to the
northern end, as shown on the transect associated with feature D, while to the south the cut seems
almost vertical, as shown on the transect associated with feature F.

23

Area 2 Interpretation

24

A & B) Features A and B were originally part of the Roman street grid of Chichester. It is roughly
6.5m wide to the north and 8m wide to the south, but were once the same feature, being cut by the
medieval motte ditch, feature E. To the south, it seems it is also cut by feature H. The whole is on
the same line as a previously known road that heads roughly along the line of Little London (Down
1988 p.15). Also to the south, there is a 3m wide branch road heading east, perpendicular to the
main street for a distance of roughly 17m. These features appear in some form almost from the
surface, and are visible as parch marks in dry weather, though the most solid parts start at a depth of
25cm. Further, less solid material, on the line of the road is visible almost to the surface. At depth,
the road can still be seen at around 70cm. Feature B is partly cut by feature F, plus there are two
further cuts on the east side of A and B which are either down to robbing or Saxon occupation.
C) Nestled within the corner of two Roman connecting Roman roads, this thin layer of solid
material starts at a depth of 35cm at the eastern end and slopes down to the west to a depth of 45cm.
It may be an area of hard standing. There don't appear to be any further features associated with it.
D) At the north end of the site, near the remains of the motte, is a collection of features east and
west of the Roman street that are marked as Roman, but the date is not completely clear. They
appear mostly at a depth of 40-70cm and consist mostly of amorphous masses of loosely packed
solid material. An east-west headed linear feature at the same depth, apparently cut to the east by
medieval feature E is perpendicular to the Roman road at feature A. It is not particular wide, but its
true width is not clear as it was parallel to the 1m spaced survey lines. At the southern extent of
these features are four linear features that look more consistent with Roman occupation. As a whole,
they may be low status Roman period occupation, Saxon or even later. They are unlikely to be
medieval, as they would be under the extent of the motte before its later post-medieval removal
(JKPC).
E) This is most likely the ditch around the medieval motte (JKPC). The contrast is very slight and is
more visible on the eastern side compared to the west. It can be seen from a depth of 10cm sloping
inwards and can still be just about seen at a depth of 1m, but as a feature, it is no doubt a lot deeper.
At depth, it is most likely silted up, with some loose rubble or refuse in the top layer providing the
slight contrast visible. The feature appears to cut Roman features A, B and G, plus the linear from
the eastern part of D. It varies in width from 18-29m. It's placement confirms the parch mark noted
by Magilton (1995A p.25).
F) These two thin, parallel linear features, composed of reasonably solid material, appear at a depth
of 90cm. Projected to the NNE, both features can be seen to cut the Roman street, feature A, with
the western feature showing a very slight amount of solid material extending along the length of the
cut. They have roughly circular counterparts to the SSW almost to the other side of the medieval
ditch. All four features possibly comprise the foundations for the medieval bridge across the motte
ditch. The features extending back to the NNE suggest both that bridge could be raised,
necessitating a more complex cut on the north side, and that the motte, before it was mostly
removed, probably did not extend as far as the motte ditch, leaving a berm between the two. The
original extent of the motte is not visible on the radar.
G) This narrow linear feature, about 1.4m wide, is most likely Roman. While not on the same
alignment as feature B to the east, it is well constructed in the same manner as B, is at the same
depth and is cut by features E and H in the same way as feature B. A possible small building lies to
the west at a depth of roughly 50cm.

25

H) There are several possible medieval (JKPC) features in this area. The most obvious is a wide
ditch filled with solid material from a depth of 10cm in the very SE corner of the survey area,
sloping down to the SE. Further areas of slight contrast are visible adjacent to it to the NW,
associated with short lines of what appear to be post pads, 1.5m apart for a palisade. These aren't
visible for a great distance to the west, but suggest that there are several phases to the defences here,
which seem to post date and are contained by the original outer bailey cut, feature J.
I) This thin feature is probably a modern pipe used for watering the cricket pitch.
J) This line may mark the rough northern edge of the main outer bailey ditch cut. It is only visible
as a phase change on the un-enveloped data, having little in the way of amplitude contrast. The
various features described in feature H may post date this and represent later versions of the
defences. This feature is responsible for the truncation of Roman features B, C and G. Its width is
similar to feature E and is visible extending to the strongest feature of H to the south-east but is
unclear to the south and south-west. Its width to the west is probably lessened, as it doesn't seem to
truncate the villa in area 4. Its depth is not clear, but it is visible from the surface and reaches at
least 1.2m below the surface. The lack of contrast on the radar may be down to silting or backfilling
with clean soil.
Conclusion
The high status Roman occupation to the south-west may reflect its closer proximity to the centre of
the Roman town, with possible lower status activity out towards the walls to the north. The
condition of the buildings varies, but there are some floor levels left, plus small sections of
upstanding wall. The nature of the low status occupation to the north is not clear and would benefit
from a further higher resolution survey than the 1m exploratory survey undertaken. The largest
medieval features associated with the motte, the ditch and bridge, are fortunately clear, but not the
motte itself. The motte probably doesn't extend as far as the motte ditch. The bailey defences are
less clear and further work is needed at a greater resolution. Where the bailey ditch is more visible
as feature G in area 1, the width of the feature has become a lot narrower than at feature H in area 2.
It may be that the Roman ruins were still partially upstanding at the time, making an earth cut less
easy.
Due to the excellent quality of these results, surveys in further grassed area, especially in the southwest quadrant of town, may be fruitful, especially close to the centre of town, where the highest
status buildings seem to be concentrated.

26

Amphitheatre
Chichester Roman amphitheatre remains as a low earthwork to the south-east of the east gate. Early
excavations (White 1936) showed there was potential for revealing the structure using radar. A
survey was undertaken walking WSW-ENE with 0.5m line spacing. Select time slices are shown to
display the features discussed in the interpretation.
Positioning

Pos

Easting

Northing

A

486653.24

10460248

B

486607.43

104691.37

C

486669.66

104723.43

D

486715.46

104634.54

27

Results

1.7ns (~8.5cm)

28

6.1ns (~30.5cm)

29

14.2ns (~71cm)

30

16.5ns (~82.5)

31

20.1ns (~100.5cm)

32

Interpretation

Red features are solid modern, orange are modern surfaces, yellow are modern cuts, dark green are
solid Roman and light green are less solid Roman features.
A) A modern pipe cuts across the site parallel to the modern path. It is 45-65cm below the surface,
and its cut can be seen at higher levels as a lower amplitude response feature cutting through a
messy higher amplitude response topsoil. For part of its journey, it is joined by a second pipe, which
then seems to branch off, north into another cut, feature D, but now lacking a pipe, apart from at its
eastern end.
B) The modern path, still metalled.
C) This structure is a late 19 th/early 20th C farm building (JKPC) but the solid layer, in orange, is
quite thin. It is probably an area of hard standing. Its northern end may be associated with the road
to the east, which is perhaps now truncated. The gap may be where a building once stood, with a
path around the outside. If such a building existed, it did not have solid foundations. The cut feature
leading into the blank area may have been where a utility or utilities entered the building. The
whole is probably modern. Features A and D both cut the area, and where feature A meets feature C,
its course changes, suggesting they are from roughly the same period.
33

D) This cut shows as a lower amplitude linear feature running parallel to features A and B. It is
probably a modern pipe trench, but the pipe has since been removed, except under feature C and
adjoining feature A after it turns to meet that. There are further short cuts perpendicular to this
feature that stop when they hit features A and B.
E) This thin layer of hard material leading from the modern path, feature A, is most likely a modern
track leading to buildings to the north.
F) These are the footings of modern playground equipment, since removed (JKPC). The
northernmost is 3.5m x 6.5m, with an extant surface and seemingly three supports for the
playground equipment. The southernmost one, which looks similar to the first, has no solid floor
surface.
G) This is the floor of the Roman amphitheatre. Its response is very slight and it probably extends
much further than shown. It is closest to the surface at the centre, where it is 30cm below the
ground. The ground rises very slightly as it heads towards the edge of the amphitheatre and the
weak response slowly disappears until it is last seen about 1m down, roughly two thirds of the way
to the edge of the amphitheatre. The area shown merely gives the shape on one time slice to show
the rough shape of the feature in relation to the rising ground.
H) These areas are the main bank of the amphitheatre structure. There are few hard edges, with the
whole being composed of a material containing fragments of material producing a slightly higher
amplitude response. Some edges are difficult to discern, so the areas shown should be a guide only
to the overall shape. Two entrances are visible leading through this feature to the east and north,
with the eastern entrance seeming to have far less importance than the northern one. It is not clear
whether further cuts in the eastern edge of the feature are part of the design or modern disturbance.
The depth of the feature is certainly undulating, but as height data is not recorded, the full vertical
structure is not clear. The highest visible part is 20cm below the surface, but may be higher, getting
lost in modern material.
I) One of the few areas of wall visible, this structure makes up part of the northern entrance. The
southern part is the western retaining wall of the entrance, with the northern part seeming to make
up a small room, 5m x 6m. The highest part is only 20cm down.
J) This feature is the retaining wall on the east side of the northern entrance. Its highest part is 40cm
down and it is probably mostly robbed given feature K is visible slightly higher.
K) This thin layer of material seems to be a barely metalled track heading into the amphitheatre
through the north entrance. Its highest part is visible 35cm down.
L) This is the only surviving part of the inner retaining wall, starting roughly 40cm down. It is in
the correct position as compared to the sections of wall found in the early excavation (White 1936,
p.151). That this is the only part surviving suggests that much more of this feature was robbed after
the excavation occurred.
M) This very solid feature may be a metalled surface. It is visible at the surface, but also over a
metre down. There is a hint that it may have once continued on, curving slightly to the east, but this
is not shown on the interpretation. It is marked on the interpretation as Roman because of the extent
of the depth of it, but it is also possibly a modern feature, given how close to the surface it is found.
34

Conclusion
The amphitheatre is in fairly poor condition. Most of the retaining walls have been robbed and the
bulk of the materials of the bank have slumped outwards, both inside and out. There is a lot of
modern activity at the surface, most of which is not shown on the interpretation, including the
outlines of rectangular allotment plots (JKPC), parallel to the path, that are only visible on the unenveloped data. The north seems to show a significant entrance, more significant than the one to the
east, but as the western and southern entrances are not visible, it is difficult to say whether or not it
is the main entrance. The trackway leading from it certainly heads towards Chichester, so it is a
good candidate. The early excavation (White 1936, p.151) showed four sections of wall in various
trenches. The southernmost section seemed to be outside their projected line for the interior of the
bank, but the radar shows the bank extending further to the south than is suggested by their line, and
that fourth section of wall is indeed on the same line as the other three. This may mean that the
amphitheatre is slightly more elongated than previously thought.

35

Single Transect Surveys
Stane Street
The original reason for coming to Chichester was to test John Magilton's theory (1995B, p.31) that
Stane Street continued south-west through Chichester, out of the south gate and on to a possible port
at Dell Quay, the inference being that the road came before the town. The problems with finding
this road are obvious, but it was hoped that single radar transects along the roads, pavements and
car parks would yield some evidence of the road below. This approach has met with some success
already, with the camber of Stane Street as it crosses under Church Street, Ewell visible on the
transect below.

Stane Street, under Church Street, Ewell
This approach would not be a guaranteed success in Chichester. Utilities had the potential to wreck
archaeology and clutter any results. Much of the archaeology may have been robbed. The surveys in
Priory Park showed that the Roman layers are very close to the surface, so would be sitting amongst
modern material, making features difficult to recognise. The best potential is in car parks, which
would have less in the way of modern disturbance than pavements or roads. The image below
shows transects recorded in red. Due to the urban canyon, it was difficult to take reliable GPS
readings, so the lines are approximate.
Possible cambers are shown in green, with parts of the transects numbered shown below, all in car
park areas. The most convincing are sections 14 and 24, but even these are sketchy compared to the
example from Ewell. None of them are on the projected line of Stane Street, and they vary in width.
They may be part of the internal road network of the Roman town, or something modern with a
suitably cambered shape. It should be stressed that these results prove nothing and are merely an
indication that something of interest may be there. Full 3D surveys of these car park areas may
resolve what these features are.

36

Transects across the south-east Quadrant of Chichester

37

Section 14, east to west

Section 16, south to north

Section 17, north to south

Section 24, west to east

38

Town Walls
There has been recent research using earth resistance to map lost bastions around the south-west
edge of the Roman town wall. One such bastion, clearly visible on the earth resistance also showed
clearly on a radar transect, section 1. This is the signature that would pinpoint other bastions around
the walls, both on grassed areas, and potentially under modern pavements. Three additional
transects were taken, as shown in the diagram below, to see if this approach was viable. Section 2,
to the east of section 1 showed a wide area of solid material at the eastern end. It is of interest, but is
not a bastion. Section 3, along the western wall, showed nothing of interest. While in the area, the
Bishop's Palace Gardens were scanned to evaluate their archaeological potential without recording
anything. Label A in the diagram below shows the possible location of a feature of interest, but it is
a single point and may be nothing. Label B is the rough location of something more substantial.
Two possible walls and a possible floor surface were visible when scanning.

39

Section 1, west to east

Section 2, west to east

40

A further transect was recorded adjacent to the north east part of the town wall, again to look for
signs of a bastion. While no bastions were spotted, there was one other feature of interest in section
4. Under the modern material was a very wide feature with a V shaped profile. It looks like a rubble
filled cut, almost 10 metres wide. One possible explanation for this feature is the 1 st century
defensive ditch projected to this point from the cattle market to the south (Down 1988, p.24). That
feature was 7m wide. The extra width here may be accounted for by the transect crossing the feature
at an angle. The depth of this feature and excellent response from its reasonably solid fill may mean
that it would be traceable for some distance.

41

Section 4, south to north

Conclusion
Radar is useful for quickly scanning for larger features such as bastions and defensive ditches
around the town walls. The possible first century ditch warrants further work, but there is limited
scope for finding further bastion foundations due to the fragmentary nature of the spaces where a
radar could be run.

42

References
Down, Alec, 1988, Roman Chichester, Phillimore
Magilton, J.,1995A, Chichester Castle Reappears, The Arch. Of Chichester & District 1995
Magilton, J., 1995B, Roman Roads in the Manhood Peninsula, The Arch. Of Chichester &
District 1995
White, G.M., 1936 The Chichester Amphitheatre: Preliminary Excavations, Ant. J.16 (2)

43